War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing. …
War, whoa, lord
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
it ain’t nothing but a heart-breaker
(War) friend only to the undertaker
Oh, war it’s an enemy to all mankind. …
- Edwin Starr
This is the same game plan I’ve seen over and again the past five decades – only it’s “yet again” – and I can’t believe it’s still happening.
Friends, there’s a well-rehearsed, narrow script that’s almost always followed, always leading to war. Those with clear memories of Vietnam, Grenada, Libya, Iraq I, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq II, Pakistan and ISIL know well the drill of our military-industrialized nation.
This well-worn routine begins with the demonization of some otherwise unknown enemy – for real or for convenience. Then comes the mesmerizing adulation of the power and sophistication of our weapons.
Most currently, we have suspected chemical attacks leading to the death of 90 – resulting in 60 salvos of cruise missiles fired from U.S. ships.
Various news sources lovingly described the attack as “beautiful,” and the world gazed with wondrous eyes at the power and accuracy of our destructive power.
This adoring coverage brings to mind a young Wolf Blitzer reporting live, from Baghdad, on the terrifying yet awesome power of our then new and completely impressive cruise missiles descending on Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.
We loved our high-tech weapons as we watched them literally fly through windows of buildings from hundreds of miles away. There was no better advertisement for war. We were on the grass at the 50-yard line.
Back then, a witty rock group, Oingo Boingo, penned an insightful lyric, “Our bombs are smart, but our kids are dumb.” And maybe they were right.
We buy into this war rallying every time. And every time, we’re suckered into thinking we’re more righteous, our violence is justified, our enemies evil, and our success absolutely assured – over, and over and over again.
Yet while the outcomes haven’t been so good in the last 30 years, our memories are short – and we again buy into that same old game plan for war – once more.
It might be noted that the greater part of Europe has remained mostly peaceable since WWII. They got to live the mayhem firsthand during WWI and WWII. They got to suffer the blood and gore firsthand on their lands, families, their limbs and their hands.
Blood literally splattered on their buildings, streets, faces. And since then, that continental group has largely avoided dipping into war again.
Not so with today’s politicians. War is an abstraction to them. War is distant to them. War is just a remote calculation. War is business. War is not pain.
War is not their kid’s death or dismemberment or starvation. War is politics, and it’s someone else’s pain. Someone we don’t remotely relate to, far, far away.
Plain and simple.
Because we’ve not been invaded or conquered, with towns and cities and limbs and generations blown away in our sight, every day.
Because we’ve not seen our buddy’s brains blown over us on some remote beach. Because “war” to us today is just “the mother of all bombs,” proudly on display – with MOAB printed oh so obviously on the shiny bomb’s torso for maximum PR impact on both friend and foe.
Because war is just another transaction of bombs blown up on impersonal enemies, on impersonal faces with cries not seen, screams not heard – all conducted thousands of miles away.
War for our politicians and for most Americans is no pain, no splatter, no screaming, no sobbing, no cries buried under rubble, no stench, no inhumanity. And ultimately, also no gain.
Still, we have a new national pride of having dreamt up, and built, the “mother of all bombs.” The pride of the “beauty” of launching 60 cruise missiles from remote destroyers onto a Syrian airstrip suspected of having launched a reprehensible chemical attack. First, the demonization as rationalization, then the war.
War is hell, those who’ve really experienced it generally say. Meanwhile, guys who’ve had one, two, three, four, and five deferments from the draft, like our current “Commander in Chief” Trump, are pulling America’s levers, inching us toward our next wars.
Those with poor memories or no memories are damned to repeat the same mistakes.
So here comes the technology worship. Here comes the demonizing and the fear.
Next some flag-waving, some patriotic cheer-leading, and after sufficient homeland psych-ops conditioning, then comes our brand new, newly hatched war. “We’d better act now and kill them there or we might just be victims ourselves. …”
So now it’s Syria. Or North Korea. Or any of a whole host of minor Middle East targets. We might even get into the Baltics. Pick your new target. We’ve again set the scene with the required prelude.
Enter in, our next war. Enter in, the next expenditure of $1 trillion American that could have been used for improving our own country.
Enter in the next loss of hundreds of thousands of foreigners’ lives. Enter in the next utter waste.
War. What is it good for?
Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.